Skip to main content

Dealing with Sensitive Teeth? A Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth Can Help From the First Brush

If you’ve got teeth, then you’ve almost certainly dealt with tooth sensitivity before. So many factors can contribute to sensitive teeth, making brushing and enjoying life’s simple pleasures unpleasant. But the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help.

To help us understand the science behind sensitive teeth and the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth, we called up Dr. Matt Nejad, a biomimetic and esthetic dentist in Beverly Hills, California, and an expert on all things dentistry. He gave us the lowdown on the causes of sensitivity and everything you need to know before switching to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

What makes teeth sensitive? What can cause tooth sensitivity?

Excluding known issues like cavities or a cracked tooth, most common tooth sensitivity stems from two conditions: exposed tooth roots and exposed dentin. What that means is that the dentinal tubules, basically porous open channels that run inside the teeth, are exposed, allowing environmental factors, like a hot or cold beverage, to affect the nerve. “The tubules have fluid in them, so when something cold touches a tubule, if it’s expanding or contracting, it’s tugging the nerve deep in your tooth,” Nejad said.

The exposure of the sensitive parts of the teeth comes about in two ways: receding gums and enamel loss. Gum recession, when the gums move away from the teeth, can be caused by multiple factors, including gingivitis, overly aggressive brushing, hard toothbrush bristles and generally bad dental hygiene. Aggressive brushing can also contribute to loss of enamel, the tooth’s hard protective coating, as can clenching, grinding and an acidic diet. Nejad said, “When you put heavy pressure on the tooth, the pressure builds up and, little by little, pieces of enamel fracture off.” Bacteria, like that in gingivitis, can also flourish amid sugary foods and create acids that wear and tear at enamel over time.

Related Stories

What can I do to minimize tooth sensitivity?

Assuming you don’t want to go to a dentist for a proper consultation just yet, the first thing you can try before considering the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth is a new toothbrush. Though manufacturers produce hard-bristle toothbrushes, they’re too abrasive for teeth. “The only good use for a hard toothbrush is for your toilet bowl,” Nejad said.

What should I look for in the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth?

Aside from upping your dental hygiene with regular brushing and flossing, you might consider toothpaste for sensitive teeth. They can work in a few different ways to improve your sensitivity symptoms. One way is to plug the exposed tubules, which can be done with toothpaste with arginine, Nejad said. Another way is to mineralize, or close, the tubules with fluoride or calcium. (Now you know why all U.S. tap water has fluoride in it!) The last method instead focuses on minimizing the sensitivity with a numbing agent like potassium nitrate.

Are there any risks to using toothpaste for sensitive teeth?

The best toothpastes for sensitive teeth are perfectly safe to substitute for your typical daily toothpaste, Nejad said. Because they’re designed to be less abrasive for sensitive teeth, there are no long-term wear-and-tear risks to teeth that could be a problem with more aggressive toothpastes.

And that’s just about everything you need to know about toothpastes for sensitive teeth. Now that we know what to expect, check out a few of our favorites below, selected with some input from Nejad and our own experiences in mind. For the most part, all the picks come from brands you know, love and trust because they work for the vast majority of people to treat sensitivity, Nejad said.

So pick up a toothpaste for sensitive teeth today and make your dental routine more comfortable again.


1. Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste


For the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth overall, the Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste is the way to go. It utilizes potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride to numb the sensitive areas and bolster your teeth’s enamel. This has been my go-to toothpaste for years because my teeth are sensitive due to an enamel deficiency. I switched around 10 years ago and have never looked back because it’s easily the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


2. Colgate Sensitive Whitening Toothpaste


Colgate Sensitive Whitening Toothpaste makes for a solid alternative to anything from Sensodyne. With similar doses of potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride, it promises to deliver gentle whitening while numbing sensitive areas and closing exposed tubules.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


3. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste


As noted above, arginine is a tooth-like material that’s great for plugging up exposed tubules, which will minimize sensitivity and pain. The Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste features both arginine and calcium carbonate to patch over the tubules, providing practically instantaneous relief to sensitive teeth.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


4. Sensodyne True White Whitening Toothpaste


Though there are stronger whitening toothpastes out there, you’ll want to stick with something made for sensitive teeth like the Sensodyne True White Whitening Toothpaste. It doesn’t have any chemical whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, but it offers 5% potassium nitrate and 0.25% sodium fluoride to desensitize, repair and gently polish your teeth.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


5. Davids Sensitive + Whitening Nano Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste


Davids Sensitive + Whitening Nano Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste takes a different approach to mineralization to protect and repair teeth. Instead of plugging tubules with arginine or closing/mineralizing them with fluoride and calcium, it closes them with hydroxyapatite, a kind of calcium-phosphate mineral that is the primary component of dentin and enamel in teeth. There are no numbing agents to dull the pain, but the hydroxyapatite will start minimizing the pain from day one by closing those exposed tubules.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


6. Oral-B Pro-Health Soft Toothbrush


Harder bristles can be too abrasive, damaging teeth and gums, Nejad said. That’s why you’ll want to pick up something softer like the Oral-B Pro-Health Soft Toothbrush. The soft bristles ensure that any sensitivity you’re experiencing isn’t from the toothbrush itself.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


7. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Mouthwash


Arginine and sodium fluoride plug and cover exposed tubules whether they’re in a toothpaste or otherwise. The Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Mouthwash features both and will ameliorate sensitive teeth and gums in harder-to-reach spots.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Amazon


Flossing Is Incredibly Important and Easier Than Ever With the Best Floss Picks